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20.03.2004 General News

President commends UCC's efforts to upgrade nation's human resource

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Cape Coast March, 20, GNA- The President, Mr John Agyekum Kufuor, on Saturday, commended the University of Cape Coast, (UCC), for introducing a number of new programmes aimed at developing the requisite human resource base relevant to the needs of the nation's economy.

He commended the UCC's introduction of the distance education and sandwich programmes, and announced that the government will collaborate with UNESCO, World Bank and other partners in the programme, to multiply the pool of tertiary educated manpower for Ghana.

President Kufour, made the commendation, in a speech read for him at the 34th congregation of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), during which 2,060 graduates were presented with certificates, diplomas and degrees for various courses, with 62 of them obtaining First Class and 831 Second Class Upper.

The President, whose address was delivered by the Senior Minister, Mr Joseph Henry Mensah, reiterated the need for Ghanaian universities to continually review their curricula, research and teaching programmes so as to remain competitive and respected "in the 21st century world of learning".

He said this was necessary, because of the internationalisation of academic activities, the breaneck advancement in science and technology, as well as the consolidation of the world economy in a competitive market.

According to him, the cruel fact, is that the pressure of the international conjuncture of knowledge, ideas and skills are harsh and unrelenting, and that for the nation to remain respected and competitive, it demanded constant struggle for excellence.

He in this regard, also pledged government's support for the university's plan to establish a medical school and reminded it to take advantage of existing facilities like the Ankaful Mental and regional hospitals and the leprosarium, to fashion its programmes to enable it to utilise the facilities of these institutions.

Touching on the funding of tertiary education, he observed that "in a real economy there was no such thing as free university education or any other public service, since there was a cost of providing the services, and the whole society must pay for the full cost."

"Let us not, as a nation focus on issues of income distribution which in the end will leave us stranded like beached whales on the shores of economic penury and social backwardness", he cautioned.

He noted that, part of the answer is that today's generation has to make enormous extremely painful sacrifices out of today's productivity, in order to secure the peace and prosperity of tomorrow's generation.

He congratulated the graduates and urged them to be disciplined, hard working and engage in continuous education and let what they have studied at the university reflect in their lives.

He advised them to endeavour to repay their SSNIT loans, so as to sustain the scheme to enable others to also benefit from it. President Kufuor, commended the GETFund, National Trust, Valco Trust and the Social Security and National Insurance Trust for their contribution toward education in the country.

Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, Okyenhene, who was the guest of honour, observed that the country has been unable to achieve socio-economic emancipation as a result of disruptive unconstitutional changes in government.

The Okyenhene, expressed concern that the nation, which started as a creditor nation of six million people with per capita income of 400 dollars, has now gone HIPC and was, after 47 years, still at the same per capita income with a population of 18 million.

He cited the examples of countries like Singapore and Malaysia, Ghana's contemporaries in independence, which have made impressive strides in their economic development.

He pointed out that in addition to upholding of the concept of the rule of law, changing government through ballot box, citizens to conduct their affair within the bounds of their constitution, their leaders, most importantly, allowed the infusion of new and innovative ideas and knowledge into the body polity, measures, which he said, have all been absent in Ghana's social milieu.

The Vice-Chancellor, Reverend Professor Emmanuel Adow Obeng, announced that in its quest to provide quality, demand driven and cost effective academic programmes that are relevant to development goals, the UCC embarked on a curriculum review.

He said as a result, some departments were restructured and new programmes and courses introduced, with seven new programmes being introduced this year.

He said the university, also places emphasis on the development of the cultural life of the people, and for that reason 21 students were admitted this year into its new programme in African studies.

He said 517 students were admitted this year through remedial science programme and that the UCC would continue to run the remedial science programme to enable disadvantaged schools the opportunity to gain admission to the university to read science.

Rev. Prof. Obeng, however, repeated that accommodation still remained a problem for the university, and that it was able to accommodate just 1,800 fresh students last academic year, and hoped that it would increase to 3,000 this year.

He expressed concern about the inadequate funding of the university and called on the government to, at least cover personal emoluments so that the university will not use its internally generated funds to replace government's traditional funding.

On HIV/AIDS, he said the university has evolved a policy to ensure that students could protect themselves, in addition to imparting the knowledge they acquire about the disease to their communities. Dr Charles Mensa, Chairman of the UCC Council, announced that the university would soon establish an endowment fund to facilitate the implementation of its five-year strategic development plan. He, in this regard appealed to individuals' corporate bodies, NGOS and the government to contribute to the fund.